Thursday, January 3, 2008



Stand on the street
if you’d like to learn
how this poem was made,
and wait for the M-4 bus.

First, you’ll see
four M-1’s pass by
every five minutes,

and you might say,
let’s take a break,
get some coffee, a burger,

and as you sip,
there she goes,
an M-4,
and as you bite,
another M-4 sallies
off into night;

and at the register,
just seconds away,
damn, lost again…

Out on the street
hardened by meat
and drink, you spy
another M-1, then
the M-104, off course,
What’s it doing down here?

(And then it begins)

The Strange Sight
of a man stood
up by a bus—

the way he circles,
the way he opens
his coat to the cold,
the way he speaks
in tongues
until he falls
into silence,

and buries his rebuff
deep within him,
to sprout only
at the next chance
encounter with a poem.

Indran Amirthanayagam, waiting for the M-4, mid 80s, Upper West Side, New York, c) 1987, renewed 2008


PedestrianActivist said...

For the love of buses . . . as one dependent on public transportation and my bicycle, this poem makes me feel good. Like the feel of the breeze on my face, bussing one's cheek . . . It's a range of emotion though. Riding the bus. The humility and self righteousness, the degradation and discomfort and moral superiority. Conversely . . . Did all those car drivers backed up from the San Francisco Bay Bridge into Oakland reduce their cholesterol by twenty five points as I did? I am peddling good health and emotional well being. You cannot buy it but must earn it.

Do they know the comraderie of a joy ride with Critical Mass through the streets of San Francisco and down Lombard under a full moon? Speaking of which . . . kiss my . . . no just kidding. Feeling my oats. I am a traffic diplomat, a advocate of life in the slow lane, on the sidewalk. It is it's own reward.

Jill Jones said...

I recall trying to catch buses in NY. First of all, getting used to being on the other side of the road from what I'm used to, then finding the bus stop at which the particular bus I wanted would stop. I found the New Yorkers very helpful in this regard, at least those on Madison Avenue. Even they seemed frustrated, like 'the man' in the poem.

Indran Amirthanayagam said...

am glad to know the poem pleased you "pedestrian activist", and Jill thanks for the observation about the frustrated men of Madison Avenue waiting for their buses. cheers. Indran

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